Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has admitted that supporters have more "belief" and "hope" about the club's relegation battle since he replaced Steve McClaren as manager, as quoted by the Shields Gazette.
The Spaniard has only won one point from two Premier League games since replacing the 54-year-old two weeks ago, though the general consensus is that the Magpies are performing better under Benitez.
Last Sunday, they battled back to earn a 1-1 draw at home to relegation rivals Sunderland, with Aleksandar Mitrovic firing home an 83rd-minute equaliser to keep them three points adrift of safety in 19th place.
They have conceded twice in Benitez's first two games, having shipped 12 in McClaren's final five matches, and the former Liverpool boss believes that he has restored a sense of optimism on Tyneside.
“I can’t walk around too much, but the fans were good," he said to the Shields Gazette. “Normally, I am in my hotel and they come and they say ‘oh, here’s Rafa – good luck!’
"After dinner (on Wednesday) in the restaurant, they were asking for pictures, and outside three or four people (said) ‘great reaction in the second half’.
“I don’t want to disrespect Steve's team, because he was doing a good job, but the fans they have this hope – this belief – that now you can change things."
United travel away to 17th-placed Norwich City next Saturday for a clash that might well shape their season.
Victory would see them move level on points with the Canaries, though Benitez's side still boast a game in hand.